I made this before I went back home to visit my family. My small sister really loves chocolate bread so I wanted to bake something of that sort to take home and give to her. Now, I didn’t just want to make a simple chocolate filled bun so after several considerations, I settled down with a chocolate babka. I’ve never made it before, but I have made a cinnamon babkallah. I dug out the recipe for that and tried to alter it a bit. With the babkallah, the dough ended up not as moist as I wanted so in this babka I added an extra egg yolk. It seemed to do the trick. The dough is quite wet and without an electric mixer, I made a giant sticky mess. It was not fun to clean up and I was wary that it won’t hold up as it bakes. I was very glad to know it worked out perfectly in the end. The dough was moist and rose nicely. The addition of powdered milk helped made it creamier and richer in flavour. It held itself up well against the bold chocolate filling.
The chocolate filling itself is straight forward. I wanted a rich dark colour, hence I added cocoa powder. Though I found out as I was making it that the dark chocolate and cocoa together made it a tad bitter. Worried that my small sister wouldn’t find it sweet enough, I added brown sugar. If you like your chocolate filling less sweet, feel free to omit the brown sugar or just add half of what I did. I also add a nut topping which is completely optional. My family’s a big fan of nuts so I thought I’d put it in for some added texture and crunch. It’s pretty straight forward to make. I crushed almonds (the only nuts I had in the kitchen at the moment) and mix it with some brown sugar before sprinkling it onto the dough. Another reason why the final product was moist is due to the sugar syrup I poured all over the bread once it came out of the oven. Not only did it give a nice glaze on top, it made the insides moist for days after. You might think adding all the sugar syrup would make it too sweet, but trust me, it won’t. I just love making babka because it’s so fun to roll out the dough and fill it with whatever toppings I fancy. I wonder what else I can make next time? A savoury one maybe?
- 50g sugar (¼ cup)
- 240g cups flour, extra to dust (2 cups)
- 1 package (7 grams) easy bake yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
- 30g nonfat powdered milk (¼ cup)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 105ml milk (6 tbsp.)
- 1 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 35g unsalted butter, softened & cut into small cubes
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 65g dark chocolate (~3/8 cup chocolate chips)
- 55g unsalted butter (¼ cup)
- 30g powdered sugar (¼ cup)
- 15g brown sugar (~1 tbsp)
- 15g cocoa powder (2 tbsp.)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 25 g almonds
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 60g granulated sugar (~1/3 cup)
- 75ml water (~1/3 cup)
- Dough: In a bowl of a stand mixer or a large pyrex bowl, combine flour, sugar, yeast, powdered milk and salt.
- Heat milk until around body temperature (~37 C). It should be lukewarm to touch. Whisk in egg and extra yolk.
- Little by little, add the liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients either by hand or on medium speed with paddle attachment.
- Once all liquid is mixed it, make sure no flour bits remain before adding butter. Add butter in several increments instead of dumping it all at once into the dough. Make sure butter is well incorporated into the dough before the next addition.
- Once all the butter is mixed in, knead for a further 3-5 minutes. The dough would be quite sticky initially but as you knead it, it will become smoother and more elastic.
- First Rise: Grease a clean bowl with butter or vegetable oil. Scrape the dough into the new bowl and cover with cling film or kitchen towel. Leave to rise for around 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. Meanwhile, make fillings.
- Filling: Melt the dark chocolate and butter together, either in the microwave or a heatproof bowl over a simmering pot of water (I used the latter). Take it off the heat and mix in sugars and cinnamon. It should have a similar consistency to Nutella.
- Topping: Crush almonds into pieces, I put them in a ziplock bag and used a rolling pin to crush them. Alternatively, use a food processor and blitz for a few seconds. You’d want it to be quite fine with some small chunky bits for texture.
- Line a bread pan with parchment paper. Make sure there’s an overhang as the bread will rise further when it bakes later on.
- On a lightly floured surface, turn over the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle, around 10×12 inches.
- Spread the chocolate filling all over the surface of the dough but leave a bit of a border on all sides. Carefully lift up the edge of the longer side of the dough and roll it up tightly. Seal the ends of the seam side down.
- Cut around ½ inch of each end of the roll before cutting it in half lengthwise. If you find the dough too soft, chill dough int h fridge for 15 minutes to harden a bit first.
- Lay each piece next to each other cut sides up. Pinch the top ends together and carefully form a twist, making sure the cut sides are always facing out. Transfer the twist into the loaf pan. Depending on the size of your loaf pan, the dough could be twisted further into some form of a double helix. If not, just gently tuck the sides of the twist into the pan.
- Second rise: Let rise again, covered by a tea towel, for another hour.
- 20 minutes before baking, pre heat oven to 190 C.
- When hour is up, place the loaf pan in the oven and bake for around 30-35 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a skewer into the babka, it should come up with no dough bits, but its alright if the chocolate filling sticks to the skewer.
- Syrup: While bread is baking, make sugar syrup. Simply heat a small saucepan on medium high heat. Stir in water and sugar. Bring to boil and let simmer for a minute. Immediately take it off the heat after.
- Once the babka is out of the oven, poke holes all over it, with a skewer or chopstick, it won’t really show in the finished product. Brush the syrup all over the babka. You don’t have to use all of it, but you do need quite a lot. It won’t make it overly sweet, trust me.
- Let cool for 20 minutes in the pan before transferring it to a cooling rack to rest for another 20.
- The babka can be stored at room temperature in a container for a few days and a week in the fridge. It can also be kept in the freezer for around a month or two. Just defrost it overnight in the fridge and reheat it at 165 C for around 10-15 minutes (carefully to keep an eye so it doesn’t burn).